According to Unicef more than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures worldwide, which had led to an unprecedented amount of screentime, mental health issues and increased time indoors. 

 

Since the re-opening of schools and colleges across the Sussex region in September, there has been a dramatic shift in teaching and learning alike to online. This has been implemented to keep our sites Covid secure and handle those who are self- isolating, short staffed and little space for social distancing. However, this has been to the of detriment communication, mental health and physical activity, which is all inextricably linked to our health and wellbeing. With such speed to accomidate for Covid security,  we should also be ensuring the welfare of the students through the way in which we teach our students - or even the environment in which we do it. As such, we should be introducing more outdoor learning to the curriculum and promote an environmental approach to our learning which develops self-awarness,  collaboration and communication skills and a better understanding of the environment. It also has the added benefit of ensuring enough space for social distancing. 

We should be trying to promote outdoor learning as much as possible because with heightened sanitising, physical social distancing, the need of space and increased screentime has become challenging and stressful, espcially in schools where there are so many people but little space. During the pandemic applying  environmental education can be safer (if done appropriately) as the risk of transmission is generally lower and keeps face-to-face learning, which in the long term counteracts the inequality in which quarantine and online learning has had on students of a lower-income background. Outdoor learning could be benefical during the pandemic as it means that students continue to utilise opportunities, but also never have to stop learning. 

By seizing the opportunity to start teaching outside, we are also seizing the means to be apart of current discussions and debate such as climate change and understanding how to combat it. More younger people have been involved with the fight against climate change and becoming more sustainable, so it would make sense for our curriculm to align itself with the topical issues of today. Not only does this make learning  more relevant socially, but it has also proven by experts that learning and playing in natural surroundings allows young people to recognise their own sef-awarness and independence, alongside the awareness of interdependnce with the environment. This enriched knowledge and connection of nature diminishes the chances of the future generation of students to become 'nature deficit'. 

 By the implementation of outdoor learning, we are still providing our students with high quality education,all the  while teaching them that learning can happen anywhere.